Painful, wobbly, uncomfortable and unable to walk. That’s how 38-year-old Adarsh Sahni has been living for the last 4 months. On March 21, a cutting maneuver during a usual football match with friends lead Adarsh to a painful knee injury. With torn ligaments, he was scheduled for a minimally invasive ACL repair the next week. Three days later, the pandemic-led nation-wide lockdown was announced with all elective surgeries being canceled/postponed.
One of the most common knee injuries, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury has an annual incidence of more than 200,000 cases with 100,000 of these knees reconstructed annually1.
The ACL plays an important role in stabilizing the knee when it rotates. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, therefore any damage to this ligament can lead to an abnormal knee, if not taken due care of.
A tear in the ACL is a severe condition that can lead to injury to the cartilage, which cushions the bone surface of the knee, causing unstable knee accompanied by chronic pain and stiffness, swelling around the joint and difficulty in putting pressure on the injured leg.
Elaborating on the condition, Dr.Deepak Chaudhary, Senior Director, Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine Centre, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi, says, “Painful knees should never be ignored. If pain persists for over 7 days, it is advisable to get it examined by a doctor to prevent the joint from further damage and complications. A torn ligament cannot heal on its own, making it important to surgically reconstruct it to protect it from further damage.”
Typically, an x-ray or MRI of the joint is used to determine the severity of the injury. In minor injuries, the treatment typically includes painkillers, following RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) method. However, in severe cases where the ligament is completely torn, a minimally invasive knee reconstruction is recommended to preserve the knee joint.
A recent study suggests, a ruptured ACL is very commonly associated with other injuries—such as meniscus tears, bone and articular cartilage impact injuries—all of which must be effectively treated, or arthritis will occur in 50% of patients2.
Prof. Arumugam Sivaraman, Director, Centre for Sports Science, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education & Research Chennai, shares, "Owing to the movement restrictions, we have witnessed a dip in the incidences of knee injuries in the last 3 months. We have been e-consulting with patients, especially those who were scheduled for surgery in pre-lockdown phase, to help them with pain management at home through medications, knee brace and physiotherapy exercises."
During a ligament reconstruction surgery, the doctor makes 2-3 tiny cuts around the knee to get access to the inside of the joint. Using specialized instruments, the doctor then replaces the torn knee ligament with healthy tissue to help a new ligament grow in its place. Along with regular physiotherapy, one can resume an active lifestyle within 4-6 months of the surgery.
So, if you have been leading a compromised quality of life due to your painful knees, it might be worthwhile to e-consult your doctor to diagnose and manage your condition better. Accurate diagnosis and timely treatment can go a long way in maintaining a healthy joint. Whereas delay in seeking medical attention may prove detrimental to its functionality, thereby limiting your mobility.
As for Adarshhe underwent the procedure 2 weeks back and is recovering well at home.